5 years for priest who aided paedophile

 

A priest from Co Fermanagh has been sentenced to five years jail for financing the grooming of a 12-year-old girl.

Fr Jeremiah McGrath (64) gave more than £20,000 to his friend and convicted child rapist Billy Adams, who used the cash to give a 12-year-old treats and gifts.

Adams (38), originally from Belfast but latterly of Bootle, Merseyside, raped her repeatedly over a six-month period in 2005.

During a trial at Liverpool Crown Court, McGrath , from Rosslea, insisted he did not know Adams was abusing the girl and claimed the money was linked to his gambling habit.

Today, McGrath was jailed at the same court for five years and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Adams was sentenced to life and ordered to serve a minimum term of seven and a half years before he is considered for release.

Sentencing the priest, Judge Brian Lewis said it was McGrath's standing in the community which had made him such a useful ally to Adams. "This is a grievous, serious offence and one of which you should be deeply ashamed."

During the trial McGrath had admitted knowing that Adams, with whom he had a sexual relationship, was a convicted child rapist but said he believed his protestations of innocence.

The court heard the priest was "obsessed" with Adams and would do anything to keep him happy.